Ball bounces Loyola's way vs. Calvert Hall

Strickland falls on fumble in end zone as No. 5 Dons get 14-7 win, MIAA A title

Football

High Schools

November 28, 2003|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Rivals Loyola and Calvert Hall spent the better part of yesterday's 84th annual Turkey Bowl searching for a game-breaking play.

With time winding down, Dons linebacker Larry Strickland fell right on top of one.

Strickland recovered a fumbled snap in the end zone with 1 minute, 24 seconds to play, propelling No. 5 Loyola to a 14-7 win before a series-record 14,586 at M&T Bank Stadium.

"The quarterback just fumbled the ball and I fell on it. That's all I could do, nothing fancy," said Strickland. "I had to check and see if it was in the end zone. I just had to make sure."

Said Loyola coach Brian Abbott: "I was just praying that we got a safety, but I'll take seven every time."

The victory gave Loyola (8-3 overall, 4-0 league) the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship. The Dons, who lead the series 43-33-8, won on Thanksgiving Day for the first time since 1999.

Calvert Hall (4-6, 2-2) could have split the title with a win.

"You make mistakes against a good football team and it's hard to win," said Calvert Hall coach Jay Robinson. "Today we made mistakes. Still, we hung in there and ... had the chance to win the football game against a great Loyola team."

Led by junior running back Mike Newton (20 carries, 147 yards), the Cardinals out-gained the Dons in total offense, 303 yards to 220. But they scored just once despite driving inside Loyola's 30 five times. "We did some great things today, but we just couldn't get it done in the red zone," said Robinson.

Loyola took a 7-0 lead when junior quarterback Brady Smith (70 yards passing, 35 rushing) floated a 14-yard toss to wide receiver Emrys Darrell in the front corner of the end zone with 6:43 left before halftime, capping an 11-play, 74-yard drive.

Calvert Hall then opened the third quarter with an equally impressive drive. Consecutive runs of 11 and 12 yards by Newton, and a 39-yard pass from quarterback Andrew Robinson (15 for 32, 154 yards) to wide-open receiver Lamar Williams moved the Cardinals deep into Loyola's territory. Robinson made it 7-7 with a 1-yard sneak.

Loyola chewed up most of the third quarter with a 15-play drive, giving the ball to senior running back Chris Gillyard 11 times. The Dons nearly scored when Tim Kaiser, near the back of the end zone, dove for a tipped pass but was ruled to have trapped the ball.

The game was tied until late in the fourth quarter. Following a punt from midfield to the Calvert Hall 13, Loyola defensive lineman Dan Wykowski sacked Robinson at the 3. On the next play, Robinson never controlled the exchange from the center, and the ball bounced midway through the end zone, where Strickland recovered.

"We just made a physical mistake on the snap, and those things happen. You have to live with them," said Jay Robinson. "We were going to take a shot and throw a counter pass on second-and-long ... but we just didn't do it."

The championship was particularly sweet for Loyola, which was 5-6 last season.

"This group of 23 seniors has been together all year, and they've just done a fabulous job," said Abbott. "When you see the emotion, it's awesome."

Calvert Hall 0 0 7 0 - 7

Loyola 0 7 0 7 - 14

L-Darrell 14 pass from Smith (Karimian kick) CH-Robinson 1 run (Anastasia kick) L-Strickland fumble recovery in end zone (Karimian kick)

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